Something like Crystal Reports for PHP?

I’m looking for something that works in PHP and is similar to crystal reports. I basically need to have a layout setup that means I can output invoices just by inserting the data, and then send it to a printer.

The closest I’ve found so far is PDFB, but It’s a bit of a pain as it needs to have precise positioning.

I’d like to have something that could generate an invoice based on a template (preferably XML based) and then output it to a form easy for us to print (PostScript would be nice!)

It needs to have support for barcodes too (though these can be generated as a GD image)

Another requirement is that this must be FLOSS

Here is Solutions:

We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first solution because it is tested & true solution that will 100% work for you.

Solution 1

Use XML + XSL:FO with Apache FOP via PHP-JavaBridge.

Here is how:

PostScript would be nice!

Many PostScript printers understand PDF too.

Solution 2

I’ve used Spreadsheet_Excel_Writer in PHP, and it’s good enough. Not WYSIWYG, but it does generate XSL files, and I’m happy with it. Afterwards, you can use OpenOffice macro to convert the document to PDF. It works from command line, ergo, it works from PHP scripts too.

Or here’s an even better way.

Use OpenOffice to convert a Smarty template. Smarty is a cool templating engine for PHP, I recommend it for this purpose. Then generate pure HTML using PHP with Smarty. Finally, just convert the generated HTML into PDF using aforementioned method.

Reporting Revolutionized ™.

EDIT Jun6 2009
Modded down? Ah, nevermind.

Anyways, this method works on a headless server without running X11. I’ve taken the script from the mentioned link (except I put it in preexisting collection “Standard” instead of “DannysLibrary”) and then I’ve ran this command from Windows machine using PuTTY, and X was shut down on remote machine, and DISPLAY variable was not set, and … well, in any case, there’s no way OOo could find X11 to connect to.

$ -invisible -headless "macro:///Standard.Conversion.ConvertWordToPDF(`pwd`/logaritamska.doc)"

This works and I’m sure this would work great for anyone who’d need conversion from another format into PDF, including production of printable reports from HTML. By editing the macro you could, perhaps, even get OOo to read directly from stdin or from your temporary service URL, and output into predefined file. The script on the link is quite simple once you have the elementary code to expand.


  • generate reports as XLS or HTML
  • convert them
  • even though it’s OOo, it works on headless machines

EDIT Jun 9 2009
I’ve tried to implement an online converter this way. You should make PHP run under the same user under which you created macros. This user apparently cannot be www-data. I’ve tried to use suphp, but for some reason it didn’t change the user properly (posix_getuid() kept returning 33 which is www-data). I’ll edit this once I fix this.

EDIT Jun 26 2009
Guess it took me a while to report back. Yes, this works with suphp. I’m however not in position to show it live, since the only server I have runs a relatively critical web app which didn’t have professional security auditing. This means one of the things we depend on to protect the backend is that the user under which frontend runs is a very very unprivileged user (such as www-data). Don’t ask 🙂

Hope this helps someone: yes, converting into PDF with OO.o is quite realistic. There’s even some remote calling support in OO.o but I didn’t study that just for purposes of writing this.

Solution 3

I have used the eclpse in php: “BIRT Project”

You design your report in Eclipse.
Then upload it to your server (it must be running tomcat) I know.
Then you can call that report from your php application
you can send the parameters to the report through the query string:


We have a 4 year application working like this so far.
Around a 100 reports and it works really well.

Of course it is open source.

Good luck

Solution 4

If you have server access you might also like to go for XSL Formatting Objects through Apache FOP.
XSL-FO is XML based and supports alot of output formats including PostScript and PDF

Solution 5


In my opinion is one of the best, detailed and feature rich PHP Report Designer.

Solution 6

If you manage to call a Java application in your php-environment (which in general should be possible) JasperReports maybe the thing you are looking for:

Solution 7

hm.. i had the same problem at my current project and i ended up using crystal reports and calling the report with an web service written in c#.
the web service is nothing to complex and you can still use all the features of crystal reports.
i dont think that you will find any report engine that is completely based on php that can be compared to crystal reports… i havent been able to find one yet…

Solution 8

I ran into the same problem about a year ago. After searching all over for an existing solution I didn’t find one, so I wrote a slimmed-down crystal reports using Zend Framework’s PDF generation library. I had to heavily adapt their library to support grouped objects, repeating sections and templates. It worked, but it was really clunky, and if I had to do it again, I would find a way to bridge php to crystal reports, either through a web service like Gushiken said, or by calling a command-line app. CPAN has a Perl interface to C.R.: Win32::OLE::CrystalRuntime::Application .

If a PHP solution has been released in the past year, I doubt it is mature enough to compare to C.R. Don’t waste your time pulling your hair out — go with what works. Time is expensive. Software ain’t.

Solution 9

The right tool for this need is XSL-FO, as it’s perfect for printable media.
XSL-FO is also a W3C Recommendation, with XSLT.
I’ve made a php tool that use XSL-FO as intermediate language for reporting, this XLS-FO is the result of merging (processing) the report XSLT template with your XML data.

You create the template automagically using MS Word, and exporting as shown in the user manual. Then you feed the reporting Engine with the template, and at run time with the data XML.

Also at runtime, the resulting XSL-FO report is rendered to:

a) the same XSL-FO (if you want to debug or just want a XSL-FO)

b) A perfect PDF, (ApacheFOP renders the XSL-FO)

c) HTML with a XSLFO2HTML transformation.

Here you have the project, its a symfony 1.4 plugin:

I plan to decouple it from sf. Don’t hesitate to ask anything. Here is the HowTo:

This post might also give you some help:


Solution 10

Try Tufat

I just happen to see that ..may be it will help you.
However there is a free version is available for you to test.

You will like it .. Please share your copy.

Solution 11

i have used phpreports, and i must admit it is not bad for web based reporting since it has support for headers, footers, groups, subtotals, etc.

Solution 12

Have a look at, it is opensource invoicing application based on Symphony Framework, it is in early beta but very promising.

Note: Use and implement solution 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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